Fixing infrastructure requires plan of action now

Lisa Goudy
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The word infrastructure is being tossed around a lot lately.

You don’t have to look hard to see why a lot of people complain about the infrastructure. Particularly with all of the snow, the roads are in worse shape than they were before. Water and sewer line breaks are constantly being reported. Day by day, the infrastructure is deteriorating. It’s easy to complain.

But money doesn’t grow on trees. We need to stop talking and start acting with whatever money we have available. I know it’s not much considering how much we need, but at least there is some sort of plan.

Further, it’s just as easy to forget that we are not alone. Moose Jaw is not the only city in Saskatchewan or in Canada that is having infrastructure problems. We all need to get our infrastructure fixed.

There is no question it will take all three levels of government to afford all the work that needs to be done. Now is the time to get together and do something about it. For all we know, maybe in budget deliberations the city can find some extra money to allocate for infrastructure.

If the city had a magic wand, infrastructure could be fixed overnight. But we need to stick with reality and face the facts. Infrastructure is a long-term national problem. Sure we could allocate most of our money to fix it, but there are so many other things we’d have to put on hold or sacrifice to do so. A city is made up of more than just the infrastructure, although it is a fundamental aspect.

The city’s five-year capital plan in the 2012-2016 capital budget allocated a general capital reserve of $42.17 million over five years. Expenditures total $87.2 million.

The 10-year unfunded capital budget includes all infrastructure deficits with expenditures totaling $176.14 million. In order for all of that to be crossed off the list with funding from the municipal tax base, the city would have to raise municipal taxes by 92 per cent. That clearly isn’t an option.

The city stated almost all infrastructure needs to be replaced at the same time, largely because it has outlived its serviceability. If the city had had funding to address the infrastructure 10 or 20 years ago or in stages before it began to fail, not everything would be malfunctioning at once.

But there is no point wasting time complaining about what you wish the city had done. What’s in the past is in the past. What we need to worry about is the present and the future.

Keep in mind that the city is stretched thin with money trying to fix the infrastructure and fund other projects in the city.

Let’s talk about Mosaic Place and the field house. Now I know there are a lot of naysayers out there saying it was a waste of money and it’s not doing well. But the building is making money. The facilities’ year-end results are expected to be strong.

Early estimates from organizers of the Capital One Canada Cup of Curling projected the event could potentially bring in up to $4 million to our economy. That’s the kind of money we can use to help fix our infrastructure and use for other city projects.

We need to be prepared to spend the money in the right places and to get to work now before it gets any worse. The longer we wait to act, the more there is going to be to fix.

Organizations: Capital One

Geographic location: Canada, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

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